With our side trip to Rome under our belts, we went to bed not quite sure where we were going to go next. After a lot of research, a lot of discussion, a lot of “I don’t know… where do you want to go?”‘s, and finally an arbitrarily contrived decision, we have decided to train north into France. If we have time toward the end of our trip, we may go to one of the other destinations such as Corsica or Croatia when the water is warm enough that we might actually want to swim in it. It seems like a shame to see such beautiful beaches and have it be too cold to get wet. Ultimately though, we’ll cross that bridge when it comes.
That said, we spent the day en route to France. This meant that we had to ride back into the heart of Rome from our campsite, through the traffic and rat’s nest of one way streets and roundabouts. As a storm had blown through last night, the wind had picked up and was ripping through the streets, stirring up dirt, debris, and all sorts of plant matter, turning the clean streets of Rome into a tumultuous cloud of allergy hell. Of course, I am still paying dearly from our short ride with red, swollen eyes, and all kinds of congestion.
The ride into Rome was busier than the ride out a few days ago and I was ever so glad to be out of the way of the city buses when we finally arrived at Roma Termini. We bought our tickets and headed to find the platform we were directed to when we realized that the 12:50 train we were looking for didn’t even exist. It left at 12:15 from the other end of the station! We pretty much ran to the opposite end of the terminal where sure enough we had just a few minutes to departure. Glad we stopped to look at the signs or else we might have sat in the station all day. We caught a direct train, which is always good since every train transfer is another chance to haul our heavy bikes up and down another set of stairs. The train quickly filled up with a field trip or something with lots of mothers and screaming young children. One particular mother didn’t seem to have an “inside voice” and everything she said to her children she practically shouted so everyone on the train was forced to hear her every word. We were sure glad when all the ruckus finally got off the train half way through the ride and we could travel in peace.
We caught a train into Pisa for the evening in order to avoid arriving in Nice in the middle of the night – not to mention we hadn’t seen Italy’s international symbol – the leaning tower of Pisa. Pisa proved to be quite a charming little city. The streets are narrow and cobbled, but not overly busy and lined with bakeries, pasticcerias, bars, and gelaterias. The city has a very quiet feel, which is refreshing after the pace of life in Rome. The tower pretty much looks like every picture that you have seen of it – leaning. We ate another carton of gelato on the square of the tower as we watched tourist after tourist shamelessly take the “holding the leaning of tower of Pisa up with your hand” picture.
After we had our fill of tourist watching, we headed to camp for the evening. It is sad to be gone from the luxury of our last campground, which is in the running for Europe’s top camp site award. Our campground just outside of Pisa is quiet and clean, though, which is what really matters. Now hopefully I can get my nose to stop running and my eyes stop itching before our train into Nice tomorrow.